Today we feature a review of the SWEEAR SR11, which is a flagship hybrid quad-electrostatic, single dynamic, and 6 BA driver universal IEM. It is priced at $2599
Disclaimer: This sample was sent to us in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links or services. We thank SWEEAR for their support.
To read more about hybrid universal IEMs previously assessed on Headfonics click here.
Note that this article follows our current scoring guidelines which you can read in more detail here.
SWEEAR SR11 Review
I am genuinely surprised by just how good the SWEEAR SR11 is. It is right up there as a high-end monitor with a fascinating tapestry of punchiness, resolution, and speed. It copes exceedingly well with both complex musical passages as well as simply modern rhythm-centric rock and pop.
Comfort & Isolation
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Beautifully coherent tuning with excellent dynamics
When it rains, it pours, at least in this part of the world. Having reviewed next to zero pure Hong Kong-made high-end IEMs in the last 12 years, SWEAR’s hybrid multi-driver flagship SR11 becomes the second in as many months.
For reference, the Nostalgia Audio Tesseract already created a very striking first impression of what this vibrant scene can produce.
And the SR11 is not a one-off either. SWEEAR has two product lines consisting of a bleeding-edge tech class reference line to the more value-added Extreme line with a total of 10 monitors shared between the two lines.
The pricing stretches from the reasonable starting at $499 for a hybrid 5-driver, all the way up to the high-rolling flagship 11-driver hybrid SR11 flagship which is priced at $2599.
The SWEEAR SR11 is a universal ‘tribrid’ multi-driver in-ear monitor. It uses a total of 11 drivers, hence the name, with a mix of dynamic, balanced armature, and electrostatic variations combined with a 5-way crossover.
The SR11’s precise driver grouping reminds me a little of the Lime Ears Anima split with the dynamic driver restricted to the sub-bass frequencies only and 2 BA for the mid to upper bass. You get a further 4 BA above that with 2 for the mids and 2 for the mid-to-high frequencies and a quad electrostatic driver array for the highs/ultra-highs.
The SR11 is rated at 14Ω and 112 dB @1kHz mW which puts it in the fairly easy-to-drive category though with EST drivers we find they tend to be slightly less efficient than the paper ratings. You can find out how efficient the SR11 is on page 2 of this review.
Inside information on the specifics of the drivers for the SR11 is hard to come by. So, I cannot tell you the specifics of the dynamic driver diaphragm type or whether the BA is top-vented or closed for example. However, it’s a safe bet the EST drivers and their energizers are Sonion, which seems to be the norm for these designs.
One aspect SWEEAR does mention in relation to internal acoustic engineering is IPP or Independent Pipeline Purify (IPP) micro-acoustic technology. SWEAR states that tuning technology has a specific focus on note density and dynamic range via targeting the tube and bore design but not much more than that is revealed.
I suspect the visual manifestation of this is in that unique circular 5-bore exit on the end of the nozzle. It’s quite unusual in its application given I am used to seeing bore exits vary in size and more central whereas this is equidistant and all similarly sized bore sizes.
The SR11 aesthetics sort of remind me of the Empire Ears IEM lineup with its slimline or diminutive all-resin 2-piece shell. The main shell itself is a solid glossy black adorned with a distinctive jade marble plate and the SWEEAR logo on top.
The SR11 shells are small, much smaller than I was expecting for an 11-driver creation. They are just a shade bigger than the Vision Ears EXT shells and a lot shallower than the Noble Audio Kublai Khan or the Tesseract. They also feel very light in the hand which translates well when inserted in your ears.
To the rear of the shell, you have a prominent port for the dynamic driver venting and flush mounted 2-pin 0.78mm pin sockets for the connectors. The contouring on the body has a fairly aggressive profile, and a popular approach for resin universals designed to fit comfortably in your ear.
My hot take is that while they do everything they are required to do and on a level similar to some high-end universals I would prefer to see SWEEAR take a more unique design approach and bring a stronger identity to their shell designs.
I say this in reference to models like the Nostalgia Audio Tesseract or the Vision Ears EXT which bring something different to the table that is more memorable. So, good marks for a professional look but still a visual that could be considered indistinct from cheaper competition.
Comfort & Isolation
The SR11 shells are exceedingly lightweight and comfortable in the ear with a low enough profile externally to ensure they do not stick that far out of your ear.
It does not have a huge or long nozzle but it does not need it either given the shallow depth of the body and aggressive contouring which can allow it to res quite deep into the concha.
This allows the nozzle to reach into the ear canal quite easily with ear tips doing the rest of the work in terms of securing the monitors in place and creating a seal.
The level of passive isolation will be tip-dependent but overall, the SR11 does very well for a vented hybrid monitor. Not quite a total seal like a custom or BA-only alternative but the ambient noise blocking from my aircon about 1 meter away was excellent, nonetheless.
You get two types of tips with the SR11 in small, medium, and large and both types are silicone. One set is a translucent or ‘white hood’ tip design with stiffer stem material and the other is a more supple black hood version with a slightly smaller bore. Do note, the SR11 bore is quite wide in case you want to roll some 3rd party tips.
The translucent tips isolate a little better for me whereas the black versions have a slightly comfier and more relaxed fit in terms of pressure.
The former also offers a bit more bass presence and a more explosive or dynamic presentation whereas the black tips are comparatively softer sounding and more relaxed performers.
The SR11 stock cable is an 8-wire high-purity silver-plated copper Litz geometry sheathed in a very soft translucent jacket and tightly braided to give it an almost tubular form factor.
As far as handling goes, it is an excellent performer in the hand with no memory retention whatsoever and 100% quiet below the splitter for microphonics.
The big feature of this version of their cable, which I have seen being bundled in some of their other offerings, is the interchangeable plug connector system.
This is by no means an exclusive technology anymore and plenty of companies offer something similar but it is nice to see SWEEAR use it to maximize connectivity for SE or balanced output options.
To change barrels, you simply unscrew at the top, pull out the cable from the barrel, then align the next barrel to the internal cable 4-pin socket guide and push in until it locks into place then screw it all down.
My one critique is the finishing on the barrels. They are a bit dated looking with the chunky carbon fiber printed aluminum barrels, more so with the additional girth from the connector system, and do add some weight to the cable, especially the 4.4mm plug.
The splitter barrel has a much smaller form factor but it has the same design. So, brownie points for keeping the aesthetic consistent and complementary to the silvery hue of the main cable but I just wish it was a more modern design.
Packaging & Accessories
The SWEAR SR11 packaging is tidy, well laid out, and well-protected from accidents and knocks. You get a black exterior cover with branding that slides off to reveal a lift-lid-style box display with the drivers, plugs, and ear tips all neatly secured in their own pockets or foam trays.
To the top, we have a faux leather puck-style case which is a popular choice these days for high-end monitors. This one is in all black with red stitching and decent soft padding on the inside for housing the cable and drivers. Inside you will find the cable along with a handy leather cable organizer strap.
However, going back to my previous design observations; though have very good form and function for packaging I would still advise SWEEAR to take more of a risk and create something more distinct and memorable for their flagship box visuals.
It doesn’t have to be to the level of the VE Elysium or Tesseract levels of packaging but some more colorful graphics, a story from the people behind the product, and something more ‘human’ would ideally give the IEMs a bit more personality in such a competitive market.